First Grade 2020

Photo by insung yoon on Unsplash

I went in the classroom
to get my student,
but they were sharing riddles
that they had written
in their paper, word-study booklets.
So I stood next to her desk
and waited.

Eleven desks were evenly spaced
throughout the room.
Kids, whose feet could not yet
reach the floor,
sat in chairs
wearing soft, bright masks.

The teacher’s example
lit up the Smart board,
What has four legs,
but cannot walk?

A boy, still wearing
his winter coat and hat,
from November-snow recess,
shot up his hand
and the teacher
walked over with the microphone,
What has three legs,
but can walk?

The girl sitting next to him
in the pink hijab
rolled her eyes,
I totally know,
but I’m not saying.

A boy in back
waved his hand madly,
A tadpole,
he almost shouted.

No the dressed-for-recess
boy replied.
A dog.
Then, he looked up at his teacher
and said with authority,
Sometimes, dogs
have three legs.

Then, they went on
to the next riddle.

My girl,
whose oversized paper mask
always falls
below her nose
raised her hand
with patient determination
until the teacher
let her share.

What has two legs
but can walk?
she asked
with quiet suspense
in her voice.

A baby?
someone called out,
too excited
to raise her hand.

She shook her head,

A person?

Her little head nods,
that someone had met her challenge.

We got up to leave
and went to my office,
where she shared
her screen on zoom
from six feet away.

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